New chapters

Evidently, I’m not like everyone else; sometimes this makes me feel outside the group and other times, I’m glad that I am my unique self.  Maybe I should explain.  I belong to a group on Facebook made up of people in the early days of having lost their spouses.  I joined because another friend suggested it.  I’m all about encouraging people in whom shoes I have walked, since I know the path and I can sympathize. And in the early days of having lost one’s spouse there are a lot of tears and sadness as would be expected. Well meaning friends and loved ones of these people are not the best sources of comfort since they haven’t yet experienced the same kind of loss.  It’s not the same as losing a pet no matter how well loved; nor even the same as losing a friend or parent or sibling (all things I have experienced).  It’s hard to lose someone you’ve lived with X amount of years, plus lose the marriage, the dreams, hopes and plans.  But that’s not what makes me different.  What makes me different is about 16 months after Bob died, I turned a corner.  The second year of holidays came and I wasn’t sad in the least, I was able to celebrate them again.  Each day thereafter brought me more and more out of the deep well of sadness, until, finally I didn’t cry even every week, much less, every day.  So now, here I am, trying to be encouraging to these people and every once in awhile someone will post how it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been grieving you’ll never get over it, it will never be better and you will never stop crying.  And a bunch of other people comment how true that is and how their spouse died 10 years ago and every night they still cry themselves to sleep.  So on the one hand, I’m thinking—is there something wrong with me that I’m not doing that?  Did I not love him enough?  And then on the other hand, I’m thanking God that no, that’s not how I feel;  that I can and have enjoyed life since then.  And it occurs to me that, I knew I would turn that corner. Unfortunately I have grieved for many people in the last 54 years, but I turned a corner with every one of them.  Some took longer, losing Bob took the longest;  losing mom was pretty tough too. Losing my sister was different because hers was ruled a suicide and that’s a different loss altogether.   But through the Grace of God, I have survived losing all these people that I loved dearly.  First of all—I know where they are and they are free!  Bob is able to walk and run and do all sorts of things that he couldn’t do in his weakened state here.  My sister is free of her emotional/mental issues.  My mom was reunited with her two deceased sons.  What’s more, I’ll see them again.  Are there days when I wish I could be there too?  You betcha!  But obviously it’s not my time yet, so I’m not.

All this to say—there are new chapters in my life, yet to unfold, yet to be written.  After seven years of being cat-free, I now have two little furry ones scampering about my house. They have been teaching me all sorts of things that I will share in later posts.  I stopped writing for awhile, but I plan to be back now. Maybe that’s why God made me different in the first place, to put to paper the things He shows me, and for me to share it in my unique way with whoever needs to read it.

On being brave

A friend told me yesterday that when she looked at me, and thought about all I had been through—the word that came to her mind to describe me, is brave.  This was a surprise to me, because frankly, I feel anything but brave.  I am a survivor, it is true.  I have been thinking about my resilience lately—did it come about because of nature or nurture?  Did God deposit that trait in me at birth because He knew I would need it;  or was it borne after each affliction?  I haven’t told all my secrets as of yet and maybe never will—but looking back as far as I can remember there is almost never a time when I don’t feel as if there wasn’t some invisible target on my back.  But actually there was a time and unfortunately I have no memory of it.   There are pictures I post on Facebook of us being kids, my siblings and I.  And I can tell you by our ages whether it was pre-tragedy or post.   Anything up to my age of two or so—I am still innocent to the ways of evil.  It almost pains me to see pictures of us past that point, because I know, even though we are smiling—we are hiding our pain, from our parents, from each other and most of all—from ourselves.  Because the three of us went through something together, something that only one of us remembered and he took it to the grave with him.

It’s strange how you can sort of know something but you don’t have all the pieces.  In my case I was two, and while when you are two you remember all sorts of things,  time will eventually erase them.  I don’t even remember how my sister and I had come to speak of it finally, a couple of years after my brother passed away.   She had a remembrance of being yelled at by one of my father’s former parishioners;  not just yelled at for some minor infraction—but yelled at in an accusatory fashion—-the words in fragments, remembered for their shock and harshness more than anything else—“How could you accuse him of something like that?”   Or words to that effect, because while I was two, my sister was six and her memories probably no more concise than mine.  She had just been doing what she had been told, as countless children are told to do for as long as children have been told by parents to do certain things—to go to an trusted adult and let them know when someone is doing something wrong.   But while she remembered what this particular adult said to her, she never could remember what she had said to incite the reply.   I also had a strange memory of my own concerning this person—the lady who had yelled at my sister.  When I was around four years old, this lady came to my house.  People coming to my house was no big deal, as Dad was a preacher and our living room was his church.   This family was still in our lives and would be for a few years longer, but our memories were getting fuzzy by that point I would hazard a guess, and so whatever we had witnessed we had started to forget. However, something of what I had seen that day; whether it was my sister being yelled at or something more sinister I cannot tell you; still resided in my mind—and I was angry.  I don’t remember a whole lot from when I was four, but I remember this occasion as if it happened last year.  This woman came to our house and was sitting in a chair in our dining room close to my mother.  And I can still feel the hostility I felt towards her and the knowledge that I wanted her out of my house and away from my mom.  I don’t know where I got the idea to do what I did from—it’s not the natural behavior of a four year old.  I look back at it now, and I see hate of this woman but also, dangerously, hate of self.  Maybe I had felt powerless at two to stop whatever had happened to us and at four, I found a way to strike back.  In any event—I slipped into the bathroom unnoticed, stood on the closed lid of the toilet bowl and reached up to a high shelf (put there to keep little hands away) that held my father’s shaving tools. I picked up a razor and……ran it down my dry four year old face.   I was too short to see into the mirror, so I have no idea what I looked like when I exited the bathroom—but it must have been horrifying, because my mother jumped up and came to me immediately.  I do not remember anything past this point other than the lady left.   But I heard the story for years after that—the day I had inexplicably shaved my face.  I never told anyone why; because at that point I didn’t know why;  I had just remembered being angry at that woman and wanting her out of my house.

After our brother died of cancer, my sister and I grew closer despite the four year age difference and somehow we got to talking about this event that happened when I was two, she was six and our brother was either seven or eight.  What had brought us to these people’s house in the first place,  was that my mother had gotten pregnant one more time after she had me.  She was 41 years old and in the 1960’s, it was practically unheard of for someone that age to have a baby or to carry it to term.  She had almost died having me at 39.  She miscarried what would have been our baby brother at seven months.  Her mom was in Massachusetts and our Dad worked in the city Monday to Friday;  there was no one to look after us kids when mom had to suddenly go to the hospital when she lost our younger brother.  We had no idea how long we were subjected to stay with this family and what the particular circumstances were that lead my sister to being so harshly yelled at for speaking about it.  But my sister and I had the sneaking suspicion that the father of that house had abused my brother and we witnessed it;  or perhaps he abused us all—but we didn’t remember any of it, so we couldn’t prove it.  And by the time we talked about it, that family was long gone from our lives.

Fast forward to sometime in the beginning of 2010 and an off comment my dad had made one night as he and I sat on my couch in Virginia.  I had been telling him that I had made friends on Facebook with one of the children of this family (because whatever the sins of the father had been it had no bearing on his children in my mind).  And my dad, completely oblivious because we had never told him (and I still haven’t told him), said to me, “Well, you know that the father was a pedophile.”

All our suspicions were confirmed then.   There was no joy in being right all those years, yet the confirmation that what we knew to be true was in fact correct,  even though we couldn’t remember it, was sort of a relief in a way.  We weren’t crazy, we didn’t make this stuff up in our mind and I really did have a reason to dislike that woman (never enough to hurt myself in the process, but a four year old is powerless and a two year old even more so).

It’s scary to reveal all this now, I will be honest.  Not many people know this story, maybe a handful.  And I’m the only one left to tell it, everyone else has died.  The one who remembers it the least, left to fill in the missing pieces.  So yeah I’m a survivor.  But what good comes from surviving if I don’t share my story with others going through similar situations?  Whatever I have lost doesn’t have to be in vain if I can help someone else going through the same thing—but how will they know if I don’t tell them?

I was talking to someone the other day about survival.   And we were discussing how the mere act of survival was a form of rebellion—how life throws everything it has at you and yet you prevail —Survival says—I made it anyway.  Evil thought it was going to win but it didn’t—Survival won.  Not everyone survives, unfortunately.  You don’t have to die to not survive.  You can become hardened, and heartless.  You can become angry and sullen.  You can be unforgiving.   True rebellion against evil means you can still love and laugh and live. Of course, I am of the belief that I can do none of those things without God—it is through Christ that I am strengthened to go on and because of Him that I am even here to tell you about all this.  Because truthfully I could be (and maybe should be) dead.  I took some awful chances with my life, but for the grace of God and maybe some bigger plan that I am unaware of, I am still here.

We all have stories and some of us write them down and some of us sing them and some of us go about our lives quietly—but if we are still here, having survived to this point—then we are living testimonies to someone else who needs to know how we did it.

So no, brave is not something I would say about myself, because I know how flawed I can be, how much I mess up and how selfish I can get;  but then bravery isn’t about doing things without fear or without flaw—it’s about walking through life, determined to make it to the other side, knowing that you did before and you will again.   Knowing that you can because others have and them knowing they can because you did.  To me that is the true essence of the love God calls for us to have for one another.  Not some flowery words that have no substance behind them—but love that opens up about shameful secrets and pulls people out of the despair of thinking they are alone with whatever has happened to them.

Sometimes we may have to open our old wounds in order to help heal others…….if God asks that of you—will you be brave enough to say yes?


An attitude of gratitude

Just coming off another round of holidays—the last two month’s full of occasions when ones family gathers around tables of food; and one in particular that traditionally includes giving thanks and remembering all one has to be thankful for—it can be hard as both a single and a widow not to feel sorry for myself for all I have lost.  Used to be that my family and his family—both sets of parents, my sister, his cousins and their parents—-would gather on nearly every special occasion when we lived in New York.  Pictures on my Facebook wall prove that once upon a time, there were countless backyard barbecues and gatherings on Christmas Eve when we all were together.  One by one, I have lost the people that smile back at me in those pictures.  Yes, my dad is still here, my step mom and step family have filled the gaps somewhat.   His cousins are but a comment away to a post or a picture.   But it’s not the same and it can be hard for me as I am sure it is for many others, when the holidays come and there are empty chairs at the table.  Add my birthday (and my sister’s birthday a mere four days after mine) and you can see why the Christmas holidays are not as joyful for me as in past years (although the Reason for the season will always have my heart).   So I could easily slip into that well of despair that claims a lot of lives during what should be a happy time of the year.   And I have dipped a little low this year, I will admit.

I read something online that captured my attention in regards to this;  it said in order to stop dwelling on what you didn’t have, to write down five things everyday that you were thankful for.   If you know me at all, you know I love writing exercises!  So on December 27, 2015 (I couldn’t make myself wait until Jan 1), I bought myself a hard cover journal and wrote Grateful and Thankful on the front.  Each day since then, I have written down five things that I thank God for blessing me with.  I’ll admit, some days have been a struggle, but then I just thank him for eyes that see, ears that hear, mouth that talks, well you get the idea.   Other days are easy—my salvation; my freedom from various addictions; the roof over my head, my job, etc.   I figured I would wait a while and re-read them but also, if you know me at all, I have no patience;  so I have gone back and read some of the entries and it’s good stuff.  It has definitely helped me see that I am so blessed!

I also read something else that I have found to be true—whatever it is that you have (and may be taking for granted), there is someone out there who wishes they had it too.  Singles who want a spouse; marrieds who wish they were single.   People in apartments wanting houses; homeowners who, overwhelmed with the responsibilities of maintaining a house, wish they had a landlord instead to take care of it.  Country folk who long for city life and city dwellers who want to live in wide open spaces.

There is a lady who works in one of the stores that I visit;  she is a greeter at the Walmart in Charlottesville.  I don’t go in there very often, but when I do and she is there, she always has the best attitude—always smiles and welcomes me to the store.  And you might say, well that’s her job, that’s what they pay her to do.  And that is true, but what you don’t know if you’ve never seen her is,  she is in a wheelchair and not only that—she has no legs below her knees.   There are plenty of people who would not even bother to work in her condition;  they would go on assistance and that would be completely understandable.  But somehow, this lady not only comes to work but has one of the best attitudes when she’s there.  I don’t know her story, I don’t know anything about her—but somehow I think she must be grateful—thankful that she can still make a contribution to society and she does! She welcomes people to Walmart and maybe in doing so, hopefully in doing so–someone who might be feeling down for all they don’t have (and understandably so, not judging anyone) takes a look at her and realizes they do have a lot—they can walk and jump and run, where she can not.  But more importantly than that, hopefully they look at her and realize if she can be happy with her lot in life, so can they.

The older I get the more I realize it’s not the things I have that I’m thankful for most–it’s the people in my life;  the memories we have made.  I don’t need much in the way of material things—I could furnish most of that on my own.  I have loved and I have been loved and am still loved.

So the next time you’re feeling down—it happens to all of us—jot some things on a piece of paper that you are thankful for.  You might think you don’t have much, but you will be surprised, I guarantee!



It’s in His hands

Been thinking a lot lately about God’s provision in my life.   The times I prayed and He answered and the times I didn’t know to pray and He still answered.  I’m trusting Him now for some things;  and it can get discouraging to pray and not get the answer right away. That’s when I need to “encourage myself in the Lord.”  I thought I would write about a couple of (to me) miracles God did in my life and one He did in someone else’s, both as an encouragement to me and maybe to those reading this as well.

The first “miracle” is rather well known among the congregation of the church I attend.  My late husband’s sister was in need of roof repair;  there was a rather large leak in the ceiling of my nephew’s bedroom, a leak in fact,  that was dangerously close to an exposed light bulb. She couldn’t afford to get a new roof and I had no money to help her with it either. Bob had passed by then, as well and we had no other help.  Every time it rained, she prayed that it wouldn’t cave in or start an electrical fire in that ceiling lamp.  One night she says she cried out to God and He gave her peace about it.  The very next day, as she pulled into her driveway after work, she saw roof tiles scattered all about her front yard.  Her first thought was that the roof had finally given way.  She got out of her car somewhat in shock, to see a couple of men come around from the backyard.  One asked her if she was the homeowner to which she said yes.  He explained to her, rather apologetically, that there had been a mistake; they’d had a roofing job to do and had pulled half of her roof down before finding out they were at the wrong house!  As that bit of news sunk in, he further explained that since it was their fault, they would replace what they had torn down at their expense!  And of course, the side of the roof they had torn down was exactly the side she had needed replacing.  This story has gone far and wide across Facebook and in other churches in our area.  This wasn’t just a “miracle” for her, it was one for all of us—-God provides—He definitely does!

Years before that;  Bob and I lived in a trailer park on Rte 340 in Crimora.  It was one of the nicer trailer parks in the area and we enjoyed having our own place after years of living in the upstairs apartment of his parent’s house on Staten Island.  But there came a time when we wanted to try and buy a house.  One of the perks of living in VA was the lower prices for housing than in NY.  Bob had a good job driving for a beverage distributor and I was a cashier at our local Kmart.  We found a real estate agent and started looking at houses.  In the midst of this, my husband’s job cut his pay by a lot.  We were disappointed and decided to forego the house hunt figuring we could no longer afford one.  Right before that had happened, Nancy-our real estate agent, had told us of a small house in Crimora;  and we had plans to look at it.  But then he got the pay cut and we never followed through.  A couple of months went by and little by little, Bob started getting some of his salary back.  It wasn’t as good as it had been but it was enough for us to think we might be able to start house hunting again.  We decided to see if that house in Crimora was still available and Nancy informed us that the owners had never put it on the market but if we were interested in seeing it, they would be open to letting us.  We met her there and as we were walking around the property, Bob told me he really felt like this was our house.  We put a bid in on it and it was accepted.  Going through the process of applying for different loans, we found out that between Bob’s and my total income,  we were eligible for a first time home owners loan and that we didn’t need any money down.  If Bob had never gotten that pay cut to begin with, we would have made too much money and not been able to have gotten that loan!  So God allowed us to go through that pay cut and it was for a very good reason. One other thing worth mentioning happened while we were going through the process of buying the house that I reside in today.  We needed to furnish our last 3 pay stubs to the mortgage company; Bob found two of his, but couldn’t find the third.  We looked everywhere, in all the logical places but to no avail.  We had a spare room in the trailer, more of a junk room; we never really went in there for any reason.  But while looking for this pay stub, Bob went in there and saw a paper sticking out of a decorative stein he had sitting on a table.  He pulled that paper out and it revealed itself to be the missing pay stub.  To this day I cannot explain to you how it got there!  But I guess God knows.

Five years ago, in the fall of 2010, Bob got a promotion at his job that he never put in for. He was working at the Dollar store down the street from us–a job he had gotten in Oct 2009 after being out of work for a year.   His first manager was a really nice guy who Bob respected and worked hard for.  Bob had even helped him when the man moved.   That manager moved on to a different position within the company and Bob got a new manager in the spring of the following year.  Unbeknownst to Bob, when the position of Assistant Manager at the store came up, his former manager put him in for it.   And his present manager agreed!  So without ever applying for it, Bob got it.  He had been working mainly in the stockroom, unloading trucks and stocking product on the sales floor.  This new position came with other responsibilities, some he was less pleased with than others;  but we welcomed the raise in pay and the benefits that included health care.  He would have to wait three months to get the health care but we had no reason to worry about that or so we thought.  It was in the fall of 2010, that his back problems started.  He had never experienced a back ache or strain in his life but he was experiencing excruciating pain that September.  His family doctor put him on Vicoden, which did relieve his discomfort initially. It kept getting worse though and his doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  We went to a chiropractor but that didn’t help and seemed to make matters worse.  He went to the emergency rooms of both local hospitals but all they did was give him more painkillers and even then, somewhat begrudgingly—one doctor all but accused Bob of being there for the drugs.  All the while my husband got worse and worse, until finally, he couldn’t get up off the couch and walk.  To go to his last doctors appointment before we finally found out what was going on, my formerly robust and active 47 year old husband was in a wheelchair.  But do you know when we finally found out that Bob had a very rare form of blood cancer?  We found out after the health insurance became active and because it was not a pre-existing condition, his insurance covered all the treatments and 80% of the hospital bills.  Can I say that God did that?  Can I tell you that it’s without a shadow of a doubt in my mind that God knew we would need that insurance, so He got Bob a job he never applied for?  That He didn’t let a diagnosis come through until we were covered by the insurance?  We had lost my sister by then and she had left me some life insurance money which ended up paying the difference between what the insurance put out for his 9 day hospital stay and what was left over.  Again—God’s timing is something else.  I think about it now and it just amazes me—how if this had all happened when he had been out of work for that year, I don’t know where I would be at the moment.

God does provide.  These are some of the bigger ways in which He came through for me; but He comes through for me everyday in small ways too.  I don’t always understand what He’s doing;  and there are some things I will never understand.  But sometimes it takes looking at the big picture to make me see that His hand was always in the situation; working it out in ways only He can!

slivers of light in a dark place

I was mad at her for a long time.  I was mad that she chose to take herself out of my life. That she chose to let my dad lose yet another child.  That she, who had so much trouble throwing things out….tossed herself out of our lives, so easily.  I was mad because I was the last person to talk to her;  and she gave not so much of a hint of what she was about to do.  I was mad because she chose to do this three weeks before Thanksgiving, when she should have been making plans to visit us as she did every year.  I was mad that she did this a month before our birthdays in December—(I was born 3 years and 361 days after her)—we always celebrated our birthdays together, in our childhood home and later, on Black Friday when she would drive to Virginia to spend that weekend with us.  I was mad because I didn’t understand.  I wondered if she hated me, how could she do this to her little sister?

Before we found out what she had done to herself, we only knew that she was missing. She had “gone” missing once already, four months before as a matter of fact.  That time, she had told me that she’d over medicated herself with the medicine she took for her epilepsy–Dilantin.  Because she had taken that particular medicine since she was 12, I had some skepticism but not enough to probe deeper.  It did not help that she was in New York and 8 hours away.  She said, “don’t come, I’ll only be in the hospital a couple of days.”  When I couldn’t get in touch with her on the day of her discharge;  I grew worried.  Hours turned into days and even her boss emailed me, concerned that she would lose her job if she didn’t get in touch with her company.  I started to get frantic then.  Why couldn’t we reach her?  I cried out to God and finally, she managed to let her company know that she was still in the hospital.  It took a lot of digging to discover she was in the psych ward;  that they understood her to have attempted suicide with the extra Dilantin.  However, she denied that to me and I stuck my head back into the sand. I was so relieved to have found her that I let it go.

When Bob and I first moved to Virginia back in the summer of 1993;  my sister and I would talk on the phone every Friday night for at least an hour, sometimes on her dime, sometimes on mine.   We did that for a long time, years;  but as is the case with life, somehow we drifted away from it and stopped. But after this episode with the Dilantin, I told her we needed to do that again and we did. With renewed interest,  I looked forward to Fridays and talking with her about whatever was going on in our lives.

On Friday,  November 5, 2010, she called me, just as she had done countless other times. We discussed all manner of things, from the pain Bob was in with his back that wasn’t going away;  to a game on Facebook we both enjoyed called Treasure Isle.  I have replayed that conversation over in my head at least a dozen times and I can find no hint that she was entertaining the thoughts that would take her out of our lives.  The next day, a cold rain pelted Staten Island, there might have even been sleet mixed in.  I sent her a message on Facebook that she never responded to.  I took my nephew to a showing of a movie at a local church, that was ironically enough, about losing a friend to suicide.  I remember telling him on the way, that she was coming for Thanksgiving and he was happy about that.  The next day I had to do a rare project on a Sunday and still I had not gotten any response back from her from the day before.  It didn’t concern me as I figured she might have gone into work, as she had been known to do on other weekends.  But Monday afternoon, as I played on my laptop, and checked my email, I just happened to see something in my Junk folder. It was an email from my sister’s manager, explaining that she hadn’t shown up for work that day and had I heard from her?  I immediately tried to call her cell and got no answer; neither email or Facebook messenger garnered a response.  I started feeling that panic from four months before.  Was she in the psych ward again?  I knew they wouldn’t tell me if I called because of patient confidentiality.

Days went by.  I was numb, but I continued to get up and go to work.  It was on a drive to Woodstock, VA, on I81 that I cried out to God as to her whereabouts.  I felt an immediate sense of peace flood my spirit and a deep down knowledge that wherever she was, she was right with God and I didn’t have to worry.  Figuring she was in the mental ward at Staten Island Hospital, I wasn’t sure how she had managed to give her heart to the Lord there; but I believed it all the same.

But as the week wore on and after my dad got the NYPD to check her place (where they found neither her or her car),  dread started setting in.  Something in my gut told me she wasn’t in the hospital.  The cops told us they couldn’t put out a missing person report on her as she was an adult and might have just left for awhile.  But I knew she wouldn’t let us worry like that, either.  Finally on Sunday, November 14th, my dad got the call no parent ever wants to get.  The NYPD had a body at the morgue, which they believed to be my sister because her car was found nearby, and we were summoned to New York to identify her.  Next only to the time me and Bob had to drive to NY after my mom died;  this was the saddest visit to NY I have ever had.

At first the cops seemed to say they thought she’d been murdered, but then they turned it around to where they believed it was suicide.  Unbeknownst to us, she had called for an ambulance that time four months prior and told 911 that she’d tried to overdose on Dilantin, and they had heard that recording.  As it turned out, all that time we were trying to find her—she was at the morgue.  Seems the cops on her side of the Island didn’t have contact with the ones who had found her and the pieces didn’t get put together until they found her car.

There was an unfortunate picture in the Staten Island Advance of a sheet covered body found at Wolfe’s Pond Park.  My sister was a private person and she would not have liked knowing that her last picture would be of that.  But Wolfe’s Pond Park is where she chose to take her own life;  more than likely on that cold rainy Saturday the day after I talked to her. They found her on Sunday November 7th however and that is her official day of death.

I didn’t want to believe suicide.  I didn’t want to believe she knowingly chose to leave. There was however, a sliver of light in all of this.  The day after we had driven to New York, as me and Bob and my dad and step-mom all sat in the breakfast area of the hotel we were staying at;  my dad told me something interesting.  He said that after he had gotten off the phone with the police on Sunday;  he had felt a sudden fear but that peace had come over him just as suddenly and that he heard a still small voice say—“Don’t worry, she’s with me.”   I told him of the experience I also had, as I was driving to Woodstock a few days before.  I was glad that God had reassured us both as to her real whereabouts—it’s been one less thing to worry over.

But still I was mad and it took a long time for me to stop being mad at her.  Yes, I grieved too, I cried a lot over a long period of time.  I missed my sister and it took quite a while for me to stop thinking she was going to call every Friday night that rolled around.  But I was angry at her for leaving too.  I was angry because my dad had already buried his son, and his wife and now he had outlived another child.  I was angry because my husband was very sick and I could have used my sister to talk to about it, but she wasn’t there.  I felt she had been selfish and cowardly and I didn’t want to feel those things but I did.

After I lost Bob 20 months after losing her;  I started to understand a little better.  My hard and harsh feelings abated.  I knew what it felt like to have a crushing and somewhat hopeless outlook on the rest of my life and yes, there were times when I wanted out.  I wasn’t thinking of anyone and what kind of heartache they would experience from my desire to be free of the endless sorrow.  Unlike her, I knew I would never do it—take myself out of the game—I knew there were people who counted on me and I wouldn’t let them down.  But I stopped being angry at her and I accepted that she chose to do that not because of me or in spite of me—but because she didn’t see any other way.  Suicide is never the answer—-it devastates the ones left behind—sometimes people do it to stick it to people but those aren’t the people affected.  It’s the ones that love you—the ones you would never want to hurt in a million years—they will blame themselves—they will think they could have stopped it somehow.

So if that thought ever gets too intense, please call someone or call the hotline for Suicide prevention–1 (800) 273-8255.  There were and have been slivers of light in this dark place—but I wish she could have seen them for herself.  There is always Hope—God is but a prayer away.

Something to think about when you’re heart is broken

Been thinking a lot lately about how the Bible says that Jesus knows all about every trial that we go through—how He’s been, in all ways, tempted as we have.  I was thinking about how, usually when you’re in the teen years (although it can happen to us older folks too)—how you can think a lot about a person; care for them even and they don’t even know you’re there, pining away.  I have experienced that heartache, as I’m sure most other people have.  It’s no fun to long for and like someone who shares no such feelings for you. But it occurred to me recently—on how greater a scale Jesus understands that. How hard it is for us to be rejected by one person, but He’s been rejected by millions! He created every one of them; He knew all of them from the time of conception;  He loves them. How does rejection feel a million times over? If the one we care about never sees us the way we wish they would, the effects are not eternal;  God knows what will happen to those who reject Him, however, and the results are horrible. I don’t know much, but I know that whatever pain rejection causes me, is tiny in comparison to His.  (And yet He doesn’t scoff at my pain, but helps me in it, proving what a mighty and compassionate God He is).


So along those lines—when you are feeling rejected, unloved, unwanted—-know that God will never leave you, nor forsake you.  He loved you first and desires that you to fall in love with Him.  He wants you.  You never have to be afraid of His feelings for you—they are there. You’re never going out on a limb with Him;  you can trust Him.  He’ll never lead you on. He’ll never lie to you nor abuse you.  He’s not dysfunctional and if there are things in your life that need changing, He’ll ease you into those changes if you let Him.  He is not a bully and will never force you into anything.  When you love someone, you just naturally want to be pleasing to them, and when you fall in love with Jesus, you naturally want to do things to be pleasing to Him.  You can’t earn His love, He had it for you since the beginning of time;  but you have the power to accept His love or reject it. And you have felt the pain of rejection, haven’t you? Why would you want to do that to God?

My Dad

My dad, George Elstad, just turned 88 years old on May 19.  The youngest of seven brothers and sisters, he is the last one still living.  His parents were born in Norway, but came to America separately if I’m not mistaken, met and married sometime after.  Dad was born in Brooklyn, New York, where he lived for the first year or so of his life, until his family moved to Staten Island and to a little (then) town called Eltingville, which consisted at the time of a lot of woods and farms.  Dad was a “late in life” baby, and the majority of his siblings were years older than him, in fact, his sisters were all teenagers by the time he came along.  It was left to them to babysit him and he will be the first to tell you that they babied him to the point where he got away with a lot of behavior that he shouldn’t have and it resulted in him being very spoiled.  Dad made friends easily in school and kept many of them for many years afterward.  A few years ago in fact, he went to his 50th High School Reunion (Tottenville HS), there weren’t many students left, but he had a good time.  Dad felt he had a calling on his life to be in the ministry; and during a stint in the Army during the last month of WWII, when Dad was stationed in Austria—he was there as a Chaplain’s Assistant.  When he returned to the States and Staten Island, he got involved in his church’s youth ministry.  Dad will tell you that he did anything and everything at his church just to serve the Lord in some capacity, he’ll tell you that no job was too small for him. Somewhere along the line, my mom started going to the same church he was youth pastor of, and they met and started dating.  I don’t know the absolute particulars of the circumstances, but at one point, Dad broke up with mom to date another girl!  Obviously, that didn’t work out and Dad and Mom got married on November 7, 1953.  It rarely snows in NY before Christmas, but a blizzard hit the day before their wedding and a lot of guests didn’t get to attend.  (There’s an old wives tale that says rain on your wedding day is good luck, apparently snow must be even better, Mom passed away two months shy of their 42nd anniversary).

If you read my tribute to my mom, you know that the doctor’s told my parents that due to some medical condition, they didn’t expect mom to be able to have children.  But mom and dad believed in God and the power of prayer, and didn’t let a little thing like a doctor’s report take away their faith.  My brother Kenneth arrived on April 1, 1957, my sister Millie, on December 8, 1958 and I came along on December 4, 1962.  Mom got pregnant one more time, but miscarried what would have been my youngest brother, two years after she had me.  In fact, mom and dad had just bought a house in Mariner’s Harbor when they found out she was carrying me.  Dad had dreams of being a full time pastor, but had to work to feed his growing family so he got in the line of Credit Management,  he worked for a time in New Jersey and eventually ended up in companies in Manhattan.

Dad can be like a big kid sometimes and he’s great with children.  He had the most fun with us when we were small;  I look back fondly on Friday nights at our house, with Dad sitting on the floor with us kids and playing Monopoly.  We had two piano’s in the house at that time and Dad would sit and play kids songs for us, like Old MacDonald.  He would read to me for hours.  And one of my favorite memories is walking to the store with him, maybe I was 6 or 7, him holding my hand and me trying to keep up with his longer than mine, steps.  He took us to the Staten Island Zoo and the South Beach Amusement Park. He took us to Yankee games, him—not a sports fan at all—but he took mom and us because we loved the team. He would bring a book with him, and when the crowd went wild, would look to my mother and ask if something good had happened.  It was probably comical to those who sat around us, but that is my dad—he’s not afraid to be who he is.

Dad would take us for rides to Pennsylvania—mom liked to look at scenery and we’d always stop at family type restaurants on the way home. He’d also take us up to see my maternal grandmother when she lived in Massachusetts. School let out in NY usually on the last day of June or so; and the very next day, we’d be on the road to Gardner to see my Nana.

Dad made the mistake of telling us about the times when he was a kid—when he would “harass” the guy that used to sell produce out of a truck—Dad would yell, “Vegetables!” at the top of his lungs. Many years later, when I was a teenager, me and my friends would pester my dad to take us for a ride around the Island and he seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. He says we embarrassed him though as we would find people to yell to, just like he had told us about doing when he was a kid. One time,  when we were stopped at a light near Latourette Golf Course and a golfer was just about to hit the ball, my sister yelled, “Fore.” He looked up at her and shook his head…..amuses me even now to think about it. Dad would admonish us, but then again he never turned down an opportunity to take us for a ride, so I’ll just leave you to come to your own conclusions about that.

Dad started a home church in our living room sometime in the early 70’s. There was a tavern across the street from us, which made for some interesting conversation among the neighbors I am sure, bar songs on one side, hymns on the other.  I wasn’t much into church at the time;  but every New Years Eve, we always had a watch night service at 11 p.m. and then food and games until the wee hours of the morning. My siblings and I always looked forward to that.

My dad’s faith has always been strong and unwavering but it took a hit in 1975 when my brother was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma–a very rare and very deadly form of bone cancer.  My brother was 19 years old when he had to get his entire left leg amputated in an attempt to rid him of this cancer. Unfortunately it spread to other organs and Kenneth lost his battle on September 18, 1976.

My parents and their congregation had prayed for and believed for his healing; but God’s idea of healing and theirs was different. I’m sure my parent’s were devastated, yet I don’t remember seeing them cry. Dad rejoiced that his son was walking the streets of glory with two legs instead of the one–but I’m sure he grieved for his first born.  Dad firmly believes that he will reunited with his children and I believe I will see them as well, when we reach heaven.

The home church ceased to be sometime after my brothers death.  I think it had more to do with low attendance than anything else.  In the early 80’s Dad had an opportunity to start a church in an actual building in Port Richmond.  Christ Assembly on Castleton Avenue was born sometime around 1981, and eventually my parent’s would sell the house in Mariner’s Harbor and move into the small apartment above the sanctuary.  My sister and I moved to New Jersey in March of 1982 and I would start dating my future husband in September of that year.  Ironically enough he and his family lived on my old street and his mom and sister went to my Dad’s new church.

Five years later, Dad would marry me and Bob in that church.  There was no question in my mind that Dad would officiate, even if neither one of us was a christian at the time. Mom walked me down the aisle and gave me away and Dad married us!  Dad retired from being a credit manager and got temp work on Staten Island instead.  He made mom his assistant pastor and the two of them ministered to a small, but faithful group of parishioners until Mom’s death in 1995.  Dad carried on for another few years after that, but I’m not sure his heart was in it, and he made the move to Virginia in 1997 after retiring from the ministry. Once here, he had different jobs, a more notable one was tour guide for the Grand Caverns in Grottoes—he did well there and it was a great job to have in the summer since caverns are notoriously cool as opposed to the oppressive heat outside.  He also delivered for a pizza place—my dad, of all people—who likes to get lost on purpose just to check out new neighborhoods!  He’ll tell you that whoever made the map for Waynesboro must have been drunk, as streets end abruptly in one place, only to continue somewhere else several miles across town.  Finally, he got an office job and it was there that he met a lady named Barbara who had a mother named Helen and who thought the two of them should meet. The rest, as they say, is history.  Dad and Helen got married in 1999 and Dad’s second marriage just celebrated it’s 16th anniversary.

If you knew my dad on the Island and haven’t seen him in many years, rest assured he’s still the same man you knew back then.  His hair is grayer and he looks older, of course, but he still has a dry sense of humor (some say it’s the Norwegian sense of humor) and an unwavering faith in his Lord.  I know I could write more on his behalf and that I haven’t even scratched the surface on who my dad is—but I know that he would be perfectly happy as long as you know how much he loves God and trusts Him and he would want you to have that relationship with Jesus as well.


Step by step

I used to walk around my neighborhood all the time;  I am sure the neighbors took notice of it, and maybe they noticed when I stopped too.  There were a couple of factors as to why I stopped, one, I sprained my ankle and got out of the habit.  Two, I live in the country, and have already been too close for comfort to a momma bear and her cubs, which makes me somewhat skittish.  Three, since being widowed nearly three years ago, I don’t like walking about the roads alone with no one waiting for me at home to notice if I don’t come back. But recently, I have started walking for exercise again, and a couple of weeks ago, Mother’s Day to be specific, I decided to make a trek I had only done perhaps twice before.  It entailed walking halfway down my street to where another street meets it at a fork and walking that road in it’s entirety. Round trip it is 14,000 steps or close to 6 miles.  It was a beautiful morning for a walk, the sun was shining, not too hot and a breeze could be felt every once in awhile.  Not much traffic either and hardly anyone outside, which was fine with me.  I took a small bottle of water with me, and my phone and I started along the familiar stretch of road.

I knew I had quite a lot of ground to cover and, though I wasn’t in a hurry, I wasn’t planning on just strolling either.  Since this was the same trail in which I saw the bear, about ten years prior, I kept my eyes open for any such sightings again.  But all was calm, and I stopped to take pictures along the way of the pretty scenic views that I came upon. On that road, a little ways up, there is a bright yellow house.  It belongs to one of the well known families of the area and it certainly stands out.  Up even further, maybe a half mile or so;  there is a small dilapidated shack, with no door or windows, just openings where they should be.  Legend has it that it was the childhood home of another person from the well known family and that the person now lives in a very grand estate next door.  He keeps the old homestead as a reminder as to where he came from.

There used to be a place on this road that was home to at least 6 or 7 fairly large dogs.  I was always leery of them, some were friendly and some were not and all would come running and barking if they saw me.  Thankfully, they don’t seem to be there anymore.

It started to get hot as I walked, and I finished my bottle of water pretty quickly.  At some point thereafter I felt a little light headed and I regretted not bringing more water, nor eating anything before I left.  Still I plodded on until finally I saw the end of the road where it meets Route 340 near a trailer park.  I knew I had at least two and a half miles until I got back home and I also knew I didn’t feel quite right.  Plus I had an added problem of pebbles that kept finding their way into the hole in one of my sneakers.  I would stop periodically to take off my shoe and empty it of the contents, only to take a couple of steps and find myself in the same situation.

I was more concerned about the dizzy, light-headed feeling, however.  A friend of mine had told me how he “speaks” against things in Jesus’ Name, so I did that, out loud.  I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was along the lines of, “I will make it home okay, I will not pass out;  I will feel better soon, in Jesus’ Name.”  It didn’t take long at all for that to become a reality!  In fact I didn’t even realize it right away, I had become engrossed in something I was looking at on my phone as I walked; but then it occurred to me, I felt back to normal.

And when I realized that, my steps felt lighter.  I had been laboring under the uncertainty of whether I would end up having to knock on some stranger’s door and ask for a glass of water; or if I might end up with heat stroke and pass out.  I knew that I had a lot of steps to make to get back home and it had been all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. But once it was over and I felt like myself again, it was a breeze to walk the rest of the way home.  I quite enjoyed it!

So it occurs to me that this is what it’s like in life—the way seems really hard sometimes, and I don’t know how or if I’m going to make it.  It’s all I can do to go on.  It seems like I may collapse.  The journey is long, arduous and not much fun, if I’m honest.

Still, there is Help when I need Him, when I call on Him, when I speak in His Name.  He can make my path straight; and my steps lighter.  How much easier it is then to walk in the way that He has set before me!


A Father’s love

It has always been a special thing for me to watch a daddy with his child;  nothing sweeter than to see a big strapping man being tender with his little one.  Maybe it’s the contrast of muscle and brawn mixed with little fingers and toes.  You know without a shadow of a doubt that the same hands that are cradling that little head would protect that child to the death of the one who might bring it harm. Maybe it’s the fact that a lot of men don’t let themselves appear vulnerable, but with their babies, they just turn into a big puddle of goo. I always savored moments with my dad;  I have fond memories of him and I walking to the store when I was 6 years old, and him holding my hand the whole way.  Or times when he would take us kids to the playground or the zoo or the small amusement park that used to be on Staten Island, and times when he would read me stories or play monopoly on the floor with us.   I used to think it was tough being a preacher’s kid (and it was, at times), but I’ve since met others with different experiences than mine to the point where I can better appreciate my father’s love for us.

There is another to whom I address as Father;  and it’s my relationship with Him that is the basis of this blog post.  It occurred to me recently,  as I watched a friend and the gentleness he exhibited with his grandson—that’s God and me.  Just like an earthly dad cradles his baby, gently strokes his back or kisses the top of his head or even, just stares at him in love—that is God the Father’s reaction to His children. Honestly it’s hard to wrap my head around the idea;  but if He is my Father, than of course, He is better than any earthly father could ever be.  And since God is Love—He is more loving than any human father is capable of being.


Can you imagine being cradled in God’s arms as He looks on you with love?  Can you imagine Him kissing the top of your head or smiling at you?  It’s almost too marvelous to contemplate.


For the longest time my “picture” of God was a stern man standing a few feet away, His arms folded in front of His chest and a scowl on His face—I felt like He was displeased with me, impatient for me to hurry up and mature; and only put up with me because I’d gotten saved.  I’m not sure where I got this image from—but it’s dead wrong!

This Father loved me so much He sent his only Son to die for me!  This Father loved me before I ever knew Who He was.  This Father kept me safe and sane when I was doing self-destructive things;  He knew what He was getting and He wanted me anyway!

I remember my dad telling me one time when I was a teenager, that it didn’t matter what I ever did, him and mom would always love me and accept me.  I knew that I was loved unconditionally by them and that went a long way;  it didn’t necessarily stop me from doing things that brought me trouble, but I knew I could never do anything that would cause them to disown me.  My Father loves me even more than my earthly parents ever could. He sees my heart and understands my motives.  He knows me better than I know myself.

A lot of people have the same mistaken “picture” of God that I had.  Some of them had abusive earthly father’s and that messes with their understanding of Who God really is. Or maybe their dad’s were distant, either emotionally or physically.  Maybe they were brought up in a legalistic religious atmosphere where a wrong teaching of the nature of the Father was taught.

If you want to know Who the Father is—-take a look at a loving earthly father and know that God is all that times a million.  My heavenly Father loves me more than I will ever know; has saved me dozens of times from dangerous things that I haven’t even known about (and some that I have), He watches over me when I’m sleeping and keeps me safe from all harm.

I used to be deathly afraid of thunderstorms—afraid to the point of locking myself in a windowless room such as a closet and pressing my hands over my ears in an effort to block out the sounds of the thunder. The only time I wasn’t put in this near panic state during a storm would be if I was drunk.  I gave my heart to the Lord in December of 1993;  and the following June I was sitting on my couch so engrossed in whatever I was reading, I failed to notice that the room was getting dark and a storm was brewing.  It started to thunder and I waited for the fear but it never came.  Lightning flashed across the sky and I was unmoved. I was amazed,  I couldn’t help but praise Him for delivering me from this terror of thunderstorms–I had never asked to be released from it, He just did it.  That is the Father’s love for His child;  He could have stopped the storm in it’s tracks, but instead He drove out the fear so that I could be victorious over it.  That fear has never returned and it never will.

One of my favorite glimpses of my Heavenly Father can be seen in a parable that Jesus told of the Prodigal Son.  The son took his inheritance and ran through it, so that in no time he was left penniless. He decided to go home and be a servant to his father, who he was sure had disowned him.  Instead, the father waited for his return each day and looked down the road to see if his son was coming.  Finally that day came, when the father saw his son afar off and in his excitement, ran and met him.  The father would not hear of his son becoming his servant, in fact, he threw a party instead—it was a time of celebration because his son had been lost, but then he was found.

Do you not see?  This is how the Father feels about us!  We make mistakes but when we sincerely apologize to Him, He quickly forgives.  He waits for us, and when we are coming but still afar off, He meets us more than halfway.  He wants to help us, we merely have to ask.  We’re His children, He is not waiting for us to mess up so that He can disown us; but even if we do mess up, He will restore us.  It says in the bible that all heaven rejoices when one sinner is saved—that’s the nature of my Father–He celebrates when one of His kids comes home!



On the outside looking in

It’s not easy being a preacher’s kid; of which I am one.  The people in the congregation expect the children of the pastor to be perfect little Christians.  They hold us up as examples to their own children and their own children try to pull us into their schemes.  And let me preface this with something that some of you might find exceedingly shocking–I did not become a Christian for myself until I was 31 years old!  It can be tough enough being a preacher’s kid in a regular church, but my dad had his services in our living room;  which again, might not have been so bad out in the country, but that wasn’t the case. We lived on a busy street on Staten Island, with a tavern straight across from us.  I kid about it now, but it was cringe-worthy to me as a child–to have my friends waiting for me on the front porch, knowing that they could hear every note sang and every word spoken by those inside.  On a Sunday night in the summer, you could literally stand in the middle of my street and hear bar songs on one side blasting from the jukebox and church hymns on the other coming from my house.  I knew having church in my living room wasn’t normal, none of my friends parent’s did this, and when you’re a kid, it’s all about fitting in and I felt like a square peg in a round hole.

There was another factor to my feeling of not belonging.  Dad had told us kids that everything we did in school or in the community reflected back on him; in other words, we were not to fight other kids or even defend ourselves should the need arise.  I’m sure he meant well; but I took it literally and never did defend myself if picked on.  I was a shy kid to begin with;  a momma’s girl who would have preferred to stay home than go to school;  I was a bully’s dream if there ever was one.  And then there was one more piece to the puzzle as to why I felt from a fairly young age as if I was on the outside looking in.  This is a story that only a handful of people know and it’s a little scary for me to open up about it now.  When I was eight years old, I was molested.  I’ll not go into the who, the when or the how long.  The person responsible passed away several years ago, and to my knowledge, I was the only one he victimized.  I’ve also forgiven him and I have it on fairly good authority that he gave his heart to the Lord before he passed;  so I hold no animosity towards him. But while I won’t besmirch his name now; and I won’t go into detail about any of it;  I will say that it was not a one-time occurrence and it did affect me greatly as far as self-esteem issues go.

Not to mention, it severely hurt my relationship with God.  As I said, I grew up a preacher’s kid;  heard about God all my life and most definitely believed in Him.  But I felt forgotten and forsaken that He would let this happen to me.  I thought surely I had done something horrible to deserve this, but I could never figure out what it was.  There was a neighborhood kid a couple of years older than me that got hit by a car and killed one night;  that death affected me for years.  I didn’t even really know him other than in passing;  but I was sure I was next;  that’s how guilty I felt from some imagined wrong I felt I must have committed. I never told anyone because my abuser said not to.  I’m sure my childhood friends never had a clue, because I hid it so well.  In fact no one knew until after he passed away, and then just a select trusted few.

But the point is—all of these things led me to feel outside the norm; invisible and on the outside looking in.  It felt like there was this great party going on;  I could look in the window, see all the smiling people, see them laughing and enjoying life, but I could not open the door and join them.  I felt “less than.”  And I felt that way for quite some time.

Teenage years brought with it rebellion; cutting out of school continuously (Dad had to meet with the dean quite a few times)—until I finally dropped out altogether.  It found me abusing alcohol and smoking pot on a regular basis.  In fact one night me and a friend walked into that tavern across from my house, and my dad walked in minutes later to drag me out.  I was, truth be told, just doing what most of my friends were doing anyway—but of course, as a preacher’s kid–the community expects more from you. The idea is your dad is a Christian so why are you so bad?  The truth was, I never asked to be born into a preacher’s family any more than any one asked to be born into theirs.   Once church stopped being held in my house I never went to any other service voluntarily for many, many years.

I talked to God alot, there is some question whether He hears the prayers of people who are not living for Him, but I won’t say He doesn’t—that’s entirely up to Him and He’s God, He can do whatever He wants. But I absolutely knew without a doubt, He existed.  I just didn’t think He cared very much for me.  One of my favorite sayings when I was a teenager was—“God only knows and He doesn’t care.”  I talked to Him, but I never heard back.  I knew if I died, I wasn’t going to heaven.  I knew not to take communion and I never did until after I got saved.  As much as I shunned church and wanted no part of what I saw as a great hypocrisy; I had one of my dad’s old hymn books from the living room church that went with me wherever I moved and stayed with me up to and beyond when I became a Christian for real.  I would take it out and sing the familiar songs occasionally.

Met and married Bob;  whose mom and sister went to my dad’s church when he finally got a building to have it in.  Bob was like me, he believed but he had no interest in living it.  Bob was my first official and only boyfriend;  we dated for almost five years and then got married in 1987.  He didn’t drink all that much or at least didn’t enjoy it to the extent that I did;  I was over indulging every weekend for quite a long time.  To say I wasn’t happy would be an understatement.  I just never felt like I belonged;  I never felt peaceful, or content.  I felt guilty and convicted and judged and small.  I went to years of therapy which did help some, but it seemed I could cry longer and harder than most people did.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was grieving now that I know what that is and what that feels like.  I just wanted to be like I imagined everyone else was—I thought they all had it together.

We moved to Virginia on July 4, 1993, and that threw me into what I believe was as near to a clinical depression that I ever hope to get.  Bob worked long hours, officially 3-11 p.m., but if his job required it (and it often did), he might not get home until 3 a.m.  I didn’t work, I didn’t drive and I was homesick for New York and my family.  Ironically, Bob worked for a beverage distributor and brought beer home all the time; but it no longer got me where I wanted to go.  My sorrow was such that alcohol, unless it was some massive amount (and I wasn’t going to go that far), was not going to drown it out.  I cried every day for practically six months.  And then Thanksgiving came and my parents and sister visited for those four days.  I both anticipated and dreaded that visit.  I had longed to see them in person; but I knew when they left it would kill me.  I cannot describe to you the despair I felt at having them leave me.  And when they did, as I knew they would, I sank even further into my depression.  I told Bob I wanted to go back to New York and he said that I could, but he wasn’t going.  I knew that if I went back there without him I wouldn’t be any happier than I had been living without my family.  Push came to shove, finally.  Before I had moved to Virginia (Bob had come down here 3 months before I did to secure a place to live), I had one of my usual talks with God and I told Him, if He worked it out, I’d go to church.  See, that’s why I think God does hear when people not serving Him pray.  Because He called that prayer to my remembrance.  And even though serving Him was something I had actively ran from for 31 years, by late November 1993, I was at the end of my rope.  There was nowhere else to go but to Him.  So I finally did. It just occurred to me, right now, as I wrote this—that I got saved in all places, in my living room, with some tv preacher leading me in the sinner’s prayer on December 2, 1993.  All those years going to church in my childhood living room, it came back full circle.  I had been in such a dark, sad place for so many months, that when it took—this salvation—I felt like a great weight had lifted off of me—it felt like some one had opened all the doors and windows and turned on all the lights!  When Bob had left that afternoon, he didn’t know if he’d come back home to me with my bags all packed ready to return to New York without him or what.  What he came back home to was a very peaceful me and even he knew something amazing had happened.

That has been quite awhile ago now.  I’ve lost Bob and my mom, my sister and others.  Mom lived long enough to witness my getting baptized of which I am so grateful.  She prayed for me for so many years and never gave up!

I have since learned too, that there are a lot of people who felt as I did, that they were on the outside looking in—that a lot of those that I perceived of having great lives were actually suffering from hidden things as well. I guess if I could have them take away anything from my life,  it’s that God does care—in fact He’s waiting with open arms to gather you to Him.  He can heal all the hurts of the past.  Yes, He did allow what happened to me to occur, because it is how they say—a fallen world and men are given free will to do what they will. There are victims in that scenario, and some people have a problem with it; but God makes a way for restoration, both to the afflicted and the ones that afflict.  God makes a way for forgiveness and a healing from all manner of abuse.  I am okay and others can look at my life and see that healing is possible.  I welcome being on the outside now—not looking in to a life that seems perfect—but among others outside as well, to be a help to them, to show them that they are not alone, not forgotten or forsaken.  Not by me and most certainly, not by God.




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